The Benefits of Chunking Things Down

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Running in the street

I’ve been dealing with a few injuries lately (I will not bore you with the lengthy list of ways your body seems to break down as you approach 50!) and have been seeing a physical therapist. I was prescribed a number of exercises to do four times each day. I was super motivated in the beginning because I’m eager to run again. Despite my desire to get better, I noticed after the first week or so that I would put off the task if I told myself it was going to take eight minutes to complete each time. However, I also noticed that if I broke it down into 30 second exercises rather than one longer session, I was much more likely to do it, even though ultimately, it took the exact same amount of time. This little trick is also known as chunking things down and is a great way to improve productivity and reach your goals.

If you set out to change some behaviors or habits this time of year, you may find that you start strong but quickly slip back into old patterns or begin to procrastinate. This is particularly true if you set yourself up by trying to change too many behaviors at once. Even if you consider yourself to be an excellent multitasker, it’s human nature to shut down when you feel overwhelmed.

Consider the things you’ve set out to change about yourself. Pick your top one or two and focus only on those. Now, look for ways to break those priority habits into smaller components – baby steps! Here are a few questions to ask to help you chunk things down:

  • Why is this goal important to me? (Hint: write this down!)
  • What’s the first thing I can do today that will move me toward my goal?
  • How long will it take to do that first thing? And when and where will I do it?
  • Do I have the tools/gear/knowledge to do this first step?
  • What might hold me back from getting that first step done?
  • How can I overcome that potential roadblock?
  • After I finish this first step, what will I do next?
  • Who will support me and help me stay accountable?

Once you establish a few of these basics and break your tasks down into smaller, essential steps, it may start to feel more manageable to you. And as you find yourself crossing even tiny tasks off your list, it can feel really good! Progress begets progress, and small wins stack up to big goals.

If you find yourself struggling to set, achieve or maintain goals this year, give me a call! I love helping people figure out how to tackle all of their to-dos.

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Perri Kersh

Perri Kersh is the neatest, and sometimes freakiest, at Chapel Hill-based Neat Freak Professional Organizing, LLC. She works with individuals, families, small business owners and students to help them get and stay organized. When she’s not organizing for others, she frequently shovels up after her husband and children. In 2019, she was elected president of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. You can read more about Perri on her website,, or reach her at 919-824-8196.
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